Quiz: How Does Your Mind Affect Your Health?

Doctors once believed that the body and mind were completely separate, a belief that has gone the way of the 8-track tape player. There's no longer any question that chronic negative moods and emotions can encourage disease or that positive thoughts can speed healing. See how much you know about the mind-body connection.

1. A 13-year study of 1,500 people found what remarkable connection between depression and heart attacks?

a. People who were depressed had double the risk of heart attacks.

b. People who were depressed had quadruple the risk of heart attacks.

c. Being depressed slightly decreased the risk of heart attacks.

d. Depression had no effect on survival from heart attacks.

2. How does laughter help foster good health?

a. It stimulates the immune system.

b. It decreases pain.

c. It reduces "stress hormones."

d. All of the above

3. Which of the following is NOT true about hypnosis?

a. It's a highly effective weight-loss aid.

b. It can help relieve chronic pain.

c. It can help roughly one in four smokers kick the habit.

d. Almost anyone can learn the technique.

4. Being depressed is linked to an increased risk of having all but one of these diseases. Which one?

a. Asthma

b. Stomach ulcers

c. Cancer

d. Hypertension

5. A Stanford study found that weekly support groups were linked to an increase in the life expectancy of breast cancer patients. What was the average increase in survival?

a. Three months

b. One year

c. 18 months

d. Three years

6. Scientists now suspect that positive thinking can cure or prevent almost every type of disease. True or false?

True

False

Answers

1. A 13-year study of 1,500 people found what remarkable connection between depression and heart attacks?

1. The correct answer is: b. People who were depressed had quadruple the risk of heart attacks.

Not only is depression linked to a higher risk of heart attack, it's associated with a higher risk of dying from the attack. A separate study of heart attack survivors found that those suffering from depression were roughly six times more likely than others to die within six months of their attack.

2. How does laughter help foster good health?

The correct answer is: d. All of the above

Laughter and humor increase the activity of germ-fighting T-cells, trigger the release of pain-killing endorphins, and slow the production of the potentially harmful hormones adrenaline and cortisol.

3. Which of the following is NOT true about hypnosis?

The correct answer is: a. It's a highly effective weight-loss aid.

After reviewing several studies from the 1980s, researchers at Columbia University recently concluded that hypnosis alone seems to have little effect on weight loss. However, it has been shown to be effective both in relieving pain and in helping some people quit smoking.

4. Being depressed is linked to an increased risk of having all but one of these diseases. Which one?

The correct answer is: b. Stomach ulcers

Studies from the late 1990s suggest that people who are depressed have roughly double the risk of developing asthma, hypertension, or cancer. Stomach ulcers, in contrast, are usually caused by bacterial infections or NSAID drugs (such as aspirin and ibuprofen). Although stress may aggravate ulcers, research to date hasn't found that ulcers are linked to depression.

5. A Stanford study found that weekly support groups were linked to an increase in the life expectancy of breast cancer patients. What was the average increase in survival?

The correct answer is: c. 18 months

This study, however, has never been replicated. Another study found that people with malignant melanoma who participated in group therapy had triple the survival rates of people who were not in group therapy. The findings are inconclusive, however; this is still an area of ongoing research.

6. Scientists now suspect that positive thinking can cure or prevent almost every type of disease. True or false?

The correct answer is: False

A sunny outlook can work wonders, but it's not a miracle cure. Don't assume that positive thinking is a substitute for a healthy lifestyle, and don't blame yourself when illness strikes. Some diseases are simply stronger than the most powerful emotions.

References

Rozanski, Alan et al. Impact of Psychological Factors on the Pathogenesis of Cardiovascular Disease and Implications for Therapy. Circulation.

Berk LS, et al. Neuroendocrine and stress hormone changes during mirthful laughter. Am J Med Sci;;298(6):390-6

Jonas, Bruce J et al. Are Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression Risk Factors for Hypertension? Archives of Family Medicine, vol 6

Pratt LA et al. Depression, psychotropic medication, and risk of myocardial infarction. Prospective data from the Baltimore ECA follow-up. Circulation. 94(12): 3123-3129.

Markovitz JH et al. Psychologic factors as precursors to hypertension. Current Hypertension Reports. 3(1): 25-32.

Everson SA et al. Hypertension incidence is predicted by high levels of hopelessness in Finnish men. Hypertension. February 2000. 35(2): 561-567.

Both Depression and Diabetes Should be Treated, Medical Tribune 40(13):11, 1999

Depression Complicates and May Precede Diabetes, Clinical Psychiatry News 27 (9): 28.

Fluoxetine for Depression in Diabetes. A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial, P.J. Lustman, et al. Diabetes Care May 2000;23: 618-23

Co-occurrence of Depression with Cancer: Awareness and Treatment Can Improve Overall Health and Reduce Suffering. National Institute of Mental Health, 2000.

Pennix, Brend W et al. Chronically Depressed Mood and Cancer Risk in Older Persons. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, vol 90, No. 24.

Jonas, Bruce S. et al. Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression as Risk Factors for Development of Asthma. Journal of Applied Biobehavioral Research.

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